TORONTO — It was the captain who willed the Toronto Maple Leafs to the additional body, grabbing the puck out of mid-air earlier than roofing it behind Andrei Vasilevskiy for a last-minute lifeline. It was Toronto’s personal No. 88 who sealed the deal, besting his numbered twin in time beyond regulation to grab what was set to be a straightforward win from the defending champs’ clutches.
However earlier than they bought anyplace close to these spectacular closing moments, earlier than his membership managed to return alive and show their mettle, all of it got here right down to Jack Campbell.
Recent off a shutout in opposition to the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday that earned his crew its third straight victory, Campbell punched the clock and went again to work Thursday evening at Scotiabank Enviornment, standing on his head to maintain his Maple Leafs alive via 59 sluggish, uninspiring minutes.
He completed the evening with simply 24 saves to point out for his work, however don’t get it twisted. Had it not been for No. 36, there would’ve been no last-minute heroics, no time beyond regulation clincher, no four-game win streak.
Head coach Sheldon Keefe pointed to some notably heart-stopping moments when heaping reward on his netminder following the sport, Campbell placing in his greatest work late within the third.
The primary got here with roughly 9 minutes left on the board.
“We’re actually making an attempt to push and looking for our manner via a really tight impartial zone, and so they’re defending laborious,” Keefe stated. “Then they counter, after which abruptly, right here come a number of the greatest gamers on the planet in alone on you. And the sport primarily on the road.”
Sadly for Campbell and his Leafs, that grade-An opportunity from Brayden Level — the very best scorer not named ‘Nikita Kucherov’ throughout each of the Lightning’s current Cup runs — wasn’t only a momentary breakdown, however the starting of a wave.
Two minutes later, it was two-time Rocket Richard winner Steven Stamkos:
A minute after that, Level tried his hand once more:
Quickly after, it was Stamkos — once more. With time and area to do some harm — once more.
However the dam held.
The storm handed.
And Toronto, by some means, remained solely a shot away. After seeing their netminder depart all of it on the sheet to offer them an opportunity at redeeming a woeful evening, the Maple Leafs took the battle to the opposite finish of the rink.
“That simply speaks to Jack, when it comes to his mindset of standing in there and holding our crew alive from that second,” stated Keefe. “I feel that’s only a super signal. We don’t wish to put him in that place, clearly. But it surely’s nice for him and his confidence, and simply additional instills the idea that we’ve in him, when it comes to his capability to have our again and provides us an opportunity.”
The cage reverse Campbell’s featured no fewer heroics, as Vasilevskiy managed an ideal 28 saves via 59 minutes of labor earlier than John Tavares whipped one by him within the closing seconds of the third.
“It’s a hard-fought recreation by each groups,” Campbell stated of the nail-biter. “Vasilevskiy’s wonderful and performed nice tonight. … He makes it robust. And it’s enjoyable — he units the bar. It’s simply enjoyable to battle.”
That battle degree didn’t go unnoticed by his blue and white brethren, who’ve come to anticipate performances like this from the regular No. 36.
“I imply, he had like two breakaways, a pair back-door saves — it’s one thing that simply retains wonderful you about how laborious he works each single day,” Mitch Marner stated of his netminder after the comeback win was within the books. “He’s a one-of-a-kind individual, one-of-a-kind participant, and it’s wonderful watching him on the market, simply excelling and getting higher each single day.”
With the win in tow, Toronto strikes to 6-4-1 on the season, heading right into a Saturday evening tilt with the Boston Bruins sporting 4 straight W’s.
Getting the fourth was no picnic, with Marner taking an elbow up excessive from Mikhail Sergachev, Campbell practically getting run over by his personal defender Jake Muzzin as he allowed the one purpose that did beat him Thursday evening, and the Maple Leafs coming dangerously near seeing Tuesday’s progress so shortly undone.
For now, although, they’re simply specializing in the 2 factors.
“Profitable feels nice,” stated Campbell. “So we’ll take any bumps and bruises to get a win like that.”